Why it is important to count India’s chickens (and cows)

The news

  • The 20th round of the Livestock Census in India is being conducted by about 50,000 enumerators and 10,000 supervisors.

Background of livestock census

  • Livestock census actually covers the census of livestock, poultry, implements and machinery used for livestock rearing.
  • It is the only source for providing various kind of detailed information for these groups.
  • The human counting was started in 1872 and 47 years after that the importance of a livestock census was first recognised in the year 1919-1920.
  • So far, 19 such censuses have been conducted in the country.
  • The last census was conducted in 2012, putting total livestock population at 512.05 million and poultry population at 729.2 million.
  • India’s 20th livestock census is ongoing, which has been started on 1st October, 2018.
  • Livestock Census is conducted in every five years in India.
  • India has largest livestock numbers in the world.

Highlightsof the 20thlivestock census

  • The ongoing 20th round of the Livestock Census is an elaborate and complex exercise.
  • It is being conducted by about 50,000 enumerators and 10,000 supervisors, enumerating animals in every village and ward.
  • During the census operation, following various species of animals and poultry birds, possessed by the households, household enterprises/non-household enterprises and institutions will be counted –
    • Animals:Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun, Yak, Sheep, Goat, Pig, Horse, Pony, Mule, Donkey Camel, Dog, Rabbit and Elephant.
    • Poultry birds:Fowl, Duck, Emu, Turkeys, Quail and other poultry birds.
  • It is also counting stray and abandoned animals.
  • In the census, the data regarding the headcount, the breed of each animal along with sex, age, productivity, use etc. are being captured.
  • Other supporting and supplementary data on the owners of livestock are also being collected and compiled, which includes information on occupation, income, landholding, education etc.
  • They will simultaneously collect data on fishermen folk.
  • The upcoming Census will for the first time use tablets/computers and a mobile application (app) software, developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC), for collecting and transferring the data online.
  • This exercise is more voluminous than enumerating the human population and it is extremely difficult and cumbersome.
  • This Livestock Census is likely to conclude in a couple of months.

Significance of the livestock census

  • Agriculture economy: Livestock is an integral part of the agriculture economy supporting the rural livelihood and livestock census helps the make policies for growth in agricultural economy.
  • Socio-cultural milieu: Livestock is a rudimentary element of our socio-cultural milieu and owning and rearing livestock is an inseparable part of an inclusive universe.
  • Foundation of development and growth: Accurate and reliable data is necessary for planning and development of the sector and livestock counting is foundation for a peaceful growth.
  • Availability of data: The census produces a valuable data which would be immensely useful for policymakers, planners and academics.
  • Reflects our ability: The Livestock Census as an operation is an example of our ability to undertake tasks that seems to be impossible and are complex and cumbersome.
  • Fishery: The government does not have data on fisherman folk after 2003 and in this census fishery is a very important component to capture the information of fishermen families and infrastructure available for both inland and marine sector.
  • Breed wise data
    • It will be helpful for framing policies or programmes for breed improvement.
    • It will also give vital information for determination of threatened indigenous breeds, which will help in taking initiatives for their conservation.
  • Data Digitalization
    • The current Livestock Census heavily leverages information technology to create a high-quality database.
    • It is enabling simultaneous monitoring of the operations.
    • Develops various analytical reports that are useful for a dynamic planning process for an equally dynamic livestock sector.
    • It will reduce the time gap in data collection, data processing and report generation.
    • It will streamline the process of census and will eliminate the errors.
    • The data collected by the enumerators and verified by the supervisors are uploaded to the server immediately, resulting in real-time compilation and updating of data.
  • Environment friendly: The use of paper in census operation has been replaced with tablet computers.
  • Support holistic planning: The data collection regarding livestock and other supporting and supplementary data on the owners of livestock will support holistic planning for the agriculture sector.
  • Tribute:It is a tribute to the vast number of our faceless but committed veterinarians and para-vets.

Concluding remarks

  • The human headcount is conducted every 10 years by the Registrar General of India but feeder livestock is counted by no permanent administrative institution and hence there is a need to institutionalize it.
  • Lack of institutionalization also results in lack of resources for livestock census and thus there is a need to allocate some more resources for more reliable and accurate data.
  • It becomes a burden and goes unnoticed because of low general awareness about it, especially in urban areas and hence the need of the hour is to generate awareness about livestock census and its significance.
  • They are the source of food for many of us and thus it is important to make this exercise a more widely publicised activity.

The global safety rules behind Ethiopia jet crash probe

Context of the News:

  • An Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed on March 10, 2019, killing all 157 people on board. It was the second crash of the 737 MAX, after the Indonesian Lion Air crash in October 2018.
  • The recent crashes triggered the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX.
  • Now, a preliminary report on Ethiopian Airlines crash is due within days

Note: 737 Max is the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrow body jet that first entered service in 2017.

Theme: The topic deals with the Convention and the organisation which mandates and governs global safety rules in Civil Aviation.

About Convention on International Civil Aviation

  • The Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention (established in 1944) is a gathering of 52 countries which agreed to common rules for the burgeoning civil aviation industry anticipated after World War Two.
  • It establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, and details the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel.
  • It also established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Note: The Convention also exempts air fuels in transit from (double) taxation.

About International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

  • It is a specialized agency of the UN charged to manage the administration and governance of the Chicago Convention.
  • It cannot impose binding rules on governments, but wields clout through its safety and security standards which are approved by its 192 member countries.
  • ICAO does not participate in accident investigations unless it receives a special request from the country in charge.
  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), mandates the country to issue a preliminary report within 30 days of the disaster and a final report within 12 months of the crash.

Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation

Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation:

  • It contains the international Standards and Recommended Practices for aircraft accident and incident Investigation
  • It promotes close technical co-operation across political frontiers and steers clear of issues of blame, which has been credited with improving air safety dramatically since it was first introduced.

Purpose of Investigation

  • The purpose of its investigations is to understand the cause of a crash or incident requiring major aircraft repair and make recommendations to prevent a repeat in the future.
  • However, national sensitivities or disputes over control of data can slow or disrupt high-profile probes.


  • The country where an air accident takes place, is responsible for the investigation but can delegate it to another country.
  • Countries where the aircraft is registered, operated and manufactured are entitled to appoint accredited representatives.
  • A country which had citizens die in the crash can appoint an expert to visit the scene of the accident, receive updates on the event and the final accident investigation report.
  • Participating countries can also express disagreements over the contents of a final report.

AIIMS doctors develop application to help in timely diagnosis of autism

The News

  • In the backdrop of the World Autism Awareness Day, doctors at AIIMS have developed a mobile app for early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2 every year.

About the App

  • The app developed is called PedNeuroAiimsDiagnostics.
  • It is a questionnaire-based app which has 2 sections of questionnaire
  1. Section A has questions to assess the social interaction and communication skills
  2. Section B has questions to analyse the response given to questions in section A.
  • Based on the response to the questionnaire the app analyses if the child has any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Accordingly the following cases are considered to be suffering with ASD
  • A child who cannot babble or point or gesture by 12 months
  • Couldn’t say single word by 16 months
  • Couldn’t say any two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
  • Loss of language or social skills at any age.
  • The App is easy to use with even a paediatrician can assess the test results.
  • The app is very sensitive in that detects 98% of cases.
  • It is also very specific in that it predicts specifically which of the ASD in 92% of the cases.

In focus: Autism Spectrum Disorders

About ASD

  • Autism is a developmental disorder associated with the neurological condition of the child.
  • It shows signs in the first 3 years of child development.
  • Autism is a brain malfunction mainly associated with impairments in 3 main areas
  • Communication skills
  • Social interactions
  • Repetitive and restricted activities
  • Autism mainly occurs due to abnormalities in brain structure and function which can occur due to varied reasons.
  • As a result Autism is grouped under a spectrum of disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Common behavior pattern

  • In general autistic individual s have different ways of ‘sensing’ their world
  • Lack of emotional connection
  • Lack of eye contact while communicating
  • Not reacting or inconsistently reacting when their name is called out
  • Hypersensitivity to noise
  • Lost in own thoughts
  • Hitting or biting themselves
  • Lack of non-verbal communication
  • Inability to follow objects visually
  • Inability to make friends
  • Repetitive body movements
  • Repeating their own sentences


  • There is no single cause for Autism.
  • Different children suffering from Autism are due to different causes.
  • Some commonly identified factors include
  • Gene mutations: No single gene is associated with Autism.
  • Environmental stresses
  • Parental age at the time of conception
  • Maternal illnesses during pregnancy
  • Mother who is a victim of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Oxygen deprivation to the child’s brain etc
  • However it should be noted that there is no conclusive direct correlation with any of the factors above listed.


  • Since no two individual suffer from Autism due to same cause, different conditions are grouped under ASD.
  • It can vary between mild learning and social disability, to more complex emotional and physical disabilities.

Asperger’s syndrome

  • Mild form of Autism
  • Obsessive interest in a particular object or subject

Pervasive developmental disorder

  • This is more severe than Asperger’s syndrome
  • No two people suffering from the disease will exhibit the same symptoms
  • Common symptoms include
  • Poor social interaction
  • Impaired language skills

Autistic disorder

  • Most severe form of ASD.
  • Multiple impairments
  • Mental retardation and seizures

Note: Rett syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder are rare ASDs

What the fall of the last ISIS village in Syria means

Context of the topic:

  • The topic analysis how far the loss of territory has restricted the ISIS group and its continued influence outside Iran and Syria.

About ISIS

  • The Islamic State, or ISIS, is a militant organization that emerged as an offshoot of al Qaeda in 2014.
  • It was founded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi.
  • It quickly took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, raising its black flag in victory and declaring the creation of a caliphate and imposing strict Islamic rule.
  • The militants’ goal is an ultra-conservative caliphate that strictly enforces Shariah, or Islamic law.

Role of Territory acquisition

  • The ISIS group collected taxes from millions of people residing over the occupied territory, which made them the world’s richest terrorist group.
  • The terrorist group used the tax money to make a number of innovations including learning how to manufacture their own weapons, their own rockets and mortars, making them self-sufficient and recruiting tens of thousands of foreign fighters.
  • So, territory was crucial to the heights they could reach as a terrorist organisation.
  • The loss of territory means they no longer have the ability to collect taxes.
  • However, it has lost its territory but it still has thousands of ISIS fighters just in Iraq and Syria and also has its presence outside Iraq and Syria.

Growing influence outside Iran and Syria:

  • ISIS’s presence is strong and growing in Afghanistan, in the Philippines and in West Africa.
  • According to United Nations report estimates, in Afghanistan there are 2,500 fighters.

Influence in India

  • India has close to 200 million Muslims and it could influence less than 100 persons to travel to join the group in Iraq and Syria.
  • The low numbers points out the efforts at countering radicalisation and plurality of the society that might have helped in stopping the ISIS message seeping down.
  • ISIS Threat in Kashmir
    • There have been instances of ISIS flag being displayed in Kashmir. However, the extent and amount of coordination of ISIS’s support in the Valley is unclear.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee yojana

1. Main objectives are:

a. Extending the coverage of irrigation.

b. Improving water use efficiency.

2. End to end solution on source creation, distribution, management,field application and extensional activities.

3. It is formulated by amalgamating ongoing schemes.

4. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) – Department of Land Resources (DoLR), Ministry of Rural Development.

5. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) – Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Gange Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR).

6. On Farm Water Management (OFWM) – Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

7. Implementation: Decentralised manner through state irrigation plan and district irrigation plan.

8. Micro Irrigation Fund: The fund was set up with a initial corpus of rs 5,000 crore under the scheme with NABARD.

9. NABARD will extend the loans to state governments to mobilise resources to achieve the annual target about 2 million ha/year during the remaining period of 14th Finance commission.

10. It would supplement the efforts of Per Drop More Crop Component (PDMC) of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee yojana.

Soil health card scheme

1. It was launched in 2015 in Rajasthan.

2. The card informs farmers about nutrient status of the soils along with the recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to improve soil health and fertility.

3. The card will be issued Once in every 3 years to farm so that nutrients deficiency can be regularly detected and improved.

4. The aim is to provide soil health card to all 120 million farm holdings by December,2017.

5. In the first phase of the scheme(2015-2017), 100 million SHC have been distributed.

6. The second phase began on may 1,2017 , and will continue for the year 2017 to 2019.

7. Recently, the government has updated the funding pattern for soil health card scheme implemented by Ministry of Agriculture under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture.

8. Accordingly, the fund sharing pattern would be 90:10 for North Eastern and Himalayan states and 60:40 for other states and 100% borne by central government in UTs.

Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan

1. The ministry of Agriculture and farmer’s welfare has launched the Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan to aid, assist and advice farmers on how to improve their farming techniques and raise their incomes.

2. The krishi Kalyan Abhiyan will be undertaken in 25 villages with more than 1000 population each in aspirational Districts identified in consultation with Ministry of Rural Development as per directions of NITI Ayog.

3. The overall coordination and implementation in the 25 villages of a district is being done by Krishi Vigyan Kendra of that district.

4. Various activities to promote best practices and enhance agriculture income are being undertaken under the plan such as :-

a. Distribution of soil health cards to all farmers.

b. 100% coverage of bovine vaccination for foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in each village .

c. 100% coverage of sheep and Goat for eradication of pete des petits ruminants (PPR)

d. Distribution of Mini kits of pulses and oilseeds to all.

e. Distribution of Horticulture/Agro forestry/ Bamboo plant @ 5 per family(location appropriate).

f. Artificial insemination saturation

g. Demonstration program on Micro-irrigation.

Pradhan mantri Annadata Aay Sanraks Han Abhiyan

1. PM-AASHA is a new umbrella scheme aimed at ensuring remmunerative prices to the farmers for their produce.

2. The 3 components that are part of AASHA are

a. Price Support Scheme

b. Price Deficiency Payment Scheme

c. Pilot of Private Procurement and Stockist scheme.

3. The other existing schemes of Department of Food and Public Distribution for procurement of paddy, wheat and nutri-cereals/coarse grains and of Ministry of Textile for cotton and Jute will be continued for providing MSP to farmers for those crops.

4. PSS – under the pss , physical procurement of pulses , oilseeds and copra will be done by central nodal agencies.

5. Besides NAFED and Food Corporation of India will also take procurement of crops undef PSS.

6. The expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by the centre.

7. PDPS: Under the PDPS, the center proposes to cover all oilseeds for which MSP is notified.

8. The difference between the MSP and Actual selling/modal price will be directly paid into the farmer’s bank account.

9. Farmers who sell their crops in recognised mandis within the notified period can benefit from it.

10. This scheme doesn’t involve any physical procurement of crops as farmers are paid the difference between the MSP price and sale/modal price on disposal in notified market.

11. PPSS : In case of oil seeds , states will have the option to roll out PPSSs in select districts.

12. Under this, a private player can procure crops at MSP when market prices drop below MSP and whenever authorized by the state/UT government to enter the market.

13. The private player will then be compensated through a service charge upto a maximum of 15% of the MSP.

What is central sector schemes and centrally sponsored schemes?

Central schemes are divided into central sector schemes and centrally sponsored schemes. Now we briefly discuss them

1. Central sector schemes are 100% funded by the union government and implemed by the central government machinery.

2. Central sector schemes are mainly formulated on subjects from the union list. They account for 11% of the central government’s expenditure.

3. In centrally sponsored scheme (css) a certain percentage of the funding is borne by the states and the implementation is by the state governments.

4. Centrally sponsored schemes are formulated in subjects from the state list to encourage states to prioritize in the areas that require more attention. They account for 10% of central governments expenditure.

5. Usually centrally sponsored schemes are revised at the end of each five year plan period.

6. How ever after the discontinuation of 5 year plan , it has been decided that sunset date will be coterminous with financial commission cycles.

7. All the 28 centrally sponsored schemes have sunset clauses except MGNREGA under Ministry of Rural Development.